Things might get a little 'testy' at Council today. Jim Thompson is expected to point out some shortcoming on transparency and engagement

By Pepper Parr

March 2, 2023



Jim Thompson will be delegating at City Council today.

With Brock University students attending classes at the Bateman site – parking is expected to be a problem. Plans are being considered to convert some of the running track space into parking spots.

Expect a withering series of comments on just how the city engages and informs its citizens.

Based on a preview of what Thompson plans to say we can share the follow statements with you.

Thompson has focused on the renovation and Conversion of Robert Bateman High School

Thompson points out that the Community Engagement Charter and asks for Clear Language not Jargon

The Charter calls for Transparency: “The city’s decision-making processes will be open and clear to the public and the city will actively encourage and facilitate citizen and stakeholder participation in them.”

Jim Thompson delegating to Council

On Engagement Matters Thompson will point out that Early and Widespread Notification is required. “The City of Burlington will provide early and widespread notification to citizens and stakeholders about proposed developments, policies, initiatives and municipal projects. Widespread notification will not be given for purely localized issues such as neighbourhood traffic calming.”

He will then point to just how the city says it will engage and points to a statement: : A public engagement plan is being developed and adds the following: A comprehensive engagement plan that complements a communication plan will be delivered once more of the project timelines and opportunities for authentic engagement are determined.

He will probably point out that this has yet to happen.

On occasion council members will ask questions of a delegation. We will see if that happens this morning.

Related news article:

Thompson giving Council a piece of his mind.

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

8 comments to Things might get a little ‘testy’ at Council today. Jim Thompson is expected to point out some shortcoming on transparency and engagement

  • Jim Thomson

    If it was just the running track that was going to be turned in to parking, I probably wouldn’t object. What they actually show in the plans is paving most of the soccer pitch to accommodate parking in Phase 2.
    This from a council that declared a climate change emergency.

    My biggest concern is that the extent of parking contemplated wasn’t made public. You have to dig into the Tender Package to find what is actually planned.
    At the one public meeting on Bateman, staff clearly stated that no additional parking was needed for Phase 1. Now they are showing 150 new parking spaces on the site plan.

    I wish their was an integrity commissioner for staff.

  • Penny Hersh

    I listened to Jim’s delegation this morning and as well as focusing on the lack of public engagement he highlighted the fact that the city has yet to determine just how many parking spaces will be needed for the first phase of this project.

    He felt, and I agree, that paving over the soccer pitch for the needed parking was not something that should be done. For a council who advocates for more parks it does not bode well to think that this area would be paved over for parking.

    Listening to staff try to answer the question concerning the lack of parking spots for this project is mind boggling. Basically, they claim that because they had only 90 days before purchasing the property they didn’t realize how tenancy would affect the number of parking spaces needed. REALLY.

    Would not parking be on the top of the agenda when purchasing this property? It was always the intent to have tenants who would require parking spaces. The community centre aspect would also bring people who would need parking. This shortage is for phase 1 only what about the other 2 phases.

    Staff then went on to say that they would be looking into alternatives to paving over the soccer pitch – seeing about renting parking spaces from a nearby church, or having a shuttle from the Go Station to Robert Bateman, as well as the mantra of cycling and walking. I would like to know how many members of council use cycling as their primary mode of transportation? Personally, I have yet to see any council member cycling up to a grocery store to do their shopping.

    Years ago the challenge was put to council members to use public transit. If I remember correctly the only one to do this was Councillor Marianne Meed-Ward. She tried to get to a Regional meeting using public transit and found it was almost impossible and very time consuming. Rick Goldring at the time took the bus from his home to City Hall – ONE TIME. No other member took up the challenge ( correct me if I am wrong).

    Lastly there was the indication that they had time to figure this all out because it would be months before they had to deal with this issue.

    Perhaps they were more focused on the costly removal of the asbestos that is in all parts of the building.

    When the public purchases property they are told to do their due diligence.

    Did the city do their due diligence?

  • He was at Committee will he be at Council too?

  • Lynn Crosby

    Thank you Jim in advance for your efforts. I find it an extremely discouraging prospect now to delegate to this group.

    I note that Councillor Kearns being given the “engagement” portfolio by the mayor in her handing out Deputy Mayor titles to all is in an almost impossible position considering how council and the city are in fact making it more difficult to have proper two-way engagement. She alone can’t change that.

    Council Stolte also gets an extremely difficult one if she’s supposed to conjure up affordable housing when much of that is beyond her control and when again, Council is doing seemingly nothing to make that happen – see the mere two rental units in the huge condo development a stone’s throw from Galbraith’s businesses. At least he and Rory have portfolios which, on paper, should be much easier and with some helpful votes and motions and support by the mayor, can appear to be successful. Hmmm.

    • Jim Thomson

      Don’t sell Councillor Kearns short. She was asking great questions today on engagement issues. Sometimes all it takes is asking the right questions.
      Staff will eventually get the message that they can’t keep playing fast and loose with the rules. That extra “regular council meeting” shouldn’t have happened. Councillor Kearns called them on it.

      Your are right that Councillor Kearns can’t do it alone. More people need to be delegating on Bateman to express their outrage at the lack of public engagement on an $80 million dollar project.

      • Blair Smith

        Hi Jim – I believe that Lynn’s point was not selling Councillor Kearns short but was highlighting what an impossible task she has been given. As many of us have noted, public engagement with this Council is a farce – actually worse (if that is possible) than the pre-2018 Council(s). Even if Councillor Kearns commits herself to opening up the discourse, what actual leverage does she have? She is only one vote of seven. The same, I believe, holds true of the ‘affordable housing portfolio’. This one could be even trickier; how can Councillor Stolte effect real change with no real power to do so. These two ladies have been given a lofty title and an impossible mission and I don’t believe that it’s a coincidence.

        • Jim Thomson

          Blair I agree about Councillor Stolte, but Councillor Kearns situation isn’t impossible. In fact look at the motion the Mayor put forward on Thursday.
          Councillor Kearns can already claim one win. I’d also point out that she complained about the engagement process last year, particularly about the aborted survey.
          Pepper has pointed out to me that I had a smug grin during part of my presentation on Thursday. I think it coincides with my reference to the fact that the report contained the words “authentic engagement”.
          I’d also like to say that I’m not seeing the type of engagement from the community that i would have expected. Very few delegations and not many letters to council on Bateman. That’s on the citizens of Burlington, not council. Engagement is a two way process.